Mayor's Earth Day Breakfast launches solar-powered SPACE, celebrates Houston'sgreening & Spanjian
"I can get tired just watching Laura," Mayor Annise Parker said of sustainability director Laura Spanjian Monday morning at the mayor's Earth Day Breakfast.
Parker told the assembled crowd of assorted non-profits, sustainability partners and other green-minded Houstonians that she counts Spanjian's recruitment last March as her greenest achievement in office.
Other applauded initiatives included the Wednesday farmers market established at Hermann Square Park at City Hall, the container gardens growing in front of the Public Works building, the completion of nearly a dozen LEED-certified city buildings and electric car initiatives like city charging stations.
Parker said that despite the success of her office in making Houston greener — we are now the largest municipal wind-purchaser in the country, she said — there's (obviously) much to be done. Parker labeled Houston's wastewater plant — which currently uses 30 percent of the city's energy — as the sustainability office's next target.
Also at the pre-Earth Day breakfast was a City Hall addition: SPACE, a Solar Powered Adaptive Container for Everyone, which currently resides at the Smith Street end of Hermann Square Park and which Parker billed as a sustainable solution for disaster relief and other needs. The 20 by 8-foot shipping container can be customized for a variety of purposes, from mobile work-space to emergency response.
On the continued green agenda is spreading the message outside of the like-minded breakfast group to fellow Houstonians. "If you're going to do missionary work, go where the non-believers are," Parker said, and encouraged the departing crowd to spread the message that what's good for the planet is also good for the bottom line.
She cited the switch of Houston's traffic lights in (green-lit in 2008) to energy-efficient bulbs, a move that was expected to take seven years to see a return on the $16.4 million investment. But the bulbs, which last seven times longer than traditional light bulbs, cut down so many staff hours usually spent replacing them that the ROI was immediate.
For information on how you can go greener in your home or office, visit the Environmental Council's Office of Environmental Programming.